All Indiana

Phil Finds Out: James Dean’s Indiana hometown

Phil Finds Out: James Dean’s Indiana hometown

Phil Sanchez | All IN

FAIRMOUNT, Ind. (WISH) — James Dean was the epitome of cool. The Hollywood rebel who left us wanting more.

James Dean as a child. (Provided Photo/Marcus Winslow)

But behind the good looks and the mysterious grin was a Hoosier.

Imagine that: The coolest guy in the room, the most iconic Hollywood legend, was an Indiana farm boy.

“He was just an ordinary guy; no one dreamed at the time when he was here that he would be a movie star,” said Marcus Winslow.

Winslow knew Dean well: They were cousins, raised in the same house, where Winslow still lives.

Winslow, left, with Dean, right. (Provided Photo/Marcus Winslow)

“His dad and my mother were brother and sister, and after his mother passed away, he came here to live with my mom and dad, which would’ve been his aunt and uncle. He helped dad on the farm and played basketball and was involved in school plays and things like that,” Winslow said.

Dean with the Winslow family. (Provided Photo/Marcus Winslow)

The family farm is just outside downtown Fairmount, where David Loehr opened up a James Dean Gallery in 1988.

“Well, I had this huge James Dean collection. I had been living in New York and moved out here, and this big old house was available, and we set up the exhibit. And it’s been 31 years now, and over 400,000 people have come through the front door,” Loehr said.

Loehr said he’s not surprised that — even after all of these years — people are still fascinated by Dean.

“He was just so popular. We get a lot of young kids, a lot of teenage girls who are still crazy about him. Taylor Swift did a song about him not long ago. All of these young girls are coming in because of that, and the Jonas Brothers just did a song where they mention him, so he’s constantly turning up in popular culture,” Loehr said.

Dean was killed in a car accident on Sept. 30, 1955, in California. And every year on that day people from all across the world come to Fairmount, Indiana, to remember Dean’s life and legacy. This year, there were more than 20,000 people.

Dean and Wilson. (Provided Photo/Marcus Winslow)

“All year we work together to organize it so that it can occur,” said Dorothy Schultz with the Fairmount Historical Museum, the group behind the James Dean festival.

“There’s a huge car show, there’s a James Dean look-alike contest, there’s a lasso contest, which takes place because of his role in Giant. There’s a parade that goes on right over here. It’s a great time. Thousands of people come from all over the world just to pay tribute to him,” Schultz said.

Winslow as a child, with Dean. (Provided Photo/Marcus Winslow)

Many of those people also visit Dean’s gravesite, where flowers from this year’s festival and remnants of lipstick still remain. The gravesite’s not more than a mile away from the house where Dean and Winslow grew up.

“Any funeral is sad for a family member, but it was extra bad when you had so many people around you that you didn’t know and it’s never let up really,” Winslow said.

When Dean died actress Natalie Wood said, “All of us were touched by Jimmy, and he was touched by greatness.”

If you ask the people in his hometown, she just might have been right.


Colder and quiet rest of the week

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A good 20° swing Wednesday morning with temperatures in the lower to mid 20s this morning with feel-like temperatures in the teens. it will be a clear start then brighter heading through the rest of the morning and the afternoon! Sunshine won’t help us out too much in terms of temperatures today. Daytime highs should warm to the upper 30s. Wednesday night will be a cold one with lows in the lower 20s with a partly cloudy sky.

Thursday will be another cold one with highs struggling to reach 30°. It’ll still be a bright one with a mostly to partly sunny sky. A slow warming trend will start Friday with highs warming to the upper 30s with a mixture of sun and clouds.

This weekend will be split with a chance of showers arriving late in the day Sunday. Highs will continue to warm to the mid-40s Saturday with a partly sunny sky. Clouds return Sunday with showers later in the evening and overnight. Rain will continue through Monday. Tuesday looks to be a dry day for now then showers should return by midweek with highs in the mid 40s.